Corona virus Nepal: ‘Schools can be closed in high-risk areas’

BBC/A spokesman for the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology told the BBC that schools could be closed in co-ordination with local governments in areas where the risk of coronavirus infection is high.

Spokesperson Deepak Sharma says, “Even in the midst of risk, it is not said to operate the school, but it does not mean that it should be closed even in places where there is no risk.”

The ministry said in a statement on Friday that it could make “decisions on districts, cities and locations in coordination with the District Covid-19 Crisis Management Committee (DCCMC).”

On Thursday, the Ministry of Health and Population called 14 districts “severely affected” by the covid infection and asked them not to attend schools.

What kind of pressure?

Earlier, in talks with the Ministry of Education, representatives of Pabson and NPabson, the two main private school organizations, said they had “suggested that schools in all regions should not be closed by the same rules.”

Rituraj Sapkota, chairman of NPABSON, said, “We suggested identifying alternative methods even there.”

Even in Nepal, new types of coronaviruses, including “double mutant variants”, are becoming public, with some parents reporting that their children have already dropped out of school.

In other words, the opinion of parents and teachers is that while other aspects of the society are being run, there is no guarantee that those students will be safe even if they do not go to school.

But Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, in his New Year’s address on Wednesday, said the “government does not want to go into lockdown as much as possible” and that “civic life first” would work.

The administrators do not seem to be in the mood to close the school due to the financial crisis caused by the closure for a long time last year.

Of choice? 

Even before the ministry’s decision, the Kathmandu Municipal Corporation (KMC) on Friday issued a notice to close schools for “at least a week” and offer alternative teaching if any school teachers, students or staff are found to be infected with coronavirus. 

The Nepalgunj Sub-Metropolitan Municipality has stated that the school will be closed for one week from Sunday. 

DK Dhungana, co-chairperson of Papson, says that regular classes are not conducted when the students themselves are getting infected.

“We understand that virtual online classes cannot be the main learning medium as they have been operating for about 10 months,” he said.

Rituraj Sapkota, chairman of NPABSON, said that the sudden closure would affect the study of large classes in particular and that the biggest impact would be on the integrated examination.

“If small classes are banned from operating, there will be ample space in schools so that their studies can be continued by keeping the social distance in different sections and shifts,” said Sapkota, president of NPABSON.

The operators are of the opinion that the school should be considered in a way that covers all these issues. Of the approximately 35,000 schools in Nepal currently teaching up to grade 12, 9,000 are private. (Copied from BBC)

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